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Oct/Nov 2006







krispy kremes™ and

by Gary Fry

To learn more about Free Will Baptist Bible College, visit

IT WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD BEEN IN in a city larger than Springfield (MO), the first time I had eaten a Krispy Kreme™ donut, and the first time I had seen Free Will Baptist Bible College. For firsts, the latter two ranked about equal. 

I had traveled with Luther Gibson to the spring Bible Conference in 1967, after answering the call to preach at youth camp two summers earlier. Brother Luther had taken me under his wing. He was pastoring First FWB Church in Mountain Grove and was the mentor I needed, even though we did not know the term back then. He knew I needed to go to the Bible College, and he did all he could to see that it happened.

Almost Manna

When we arrived in Nashville early one afternoon, my cousin Chris Dale, Dane Spurgeon, and I set off to explore. As we walked to the corner of West End and Murphy Road, there it was. Resplendent in green and white with a red neon sign in the front window that said something about hot and fresh. On that corner, we had our first encounter with a donut machine that produced something just short of manna.

It was not difficult for the people sitting at the counter eating those hot, fresh donuts and drinking coffee to tell that country had come to town. Only after I heard a snicker beside me did I realize that my nose was pressed against the glass window.

We each bought a dozen donuts and ate them before we got back to Don and Carolyn Lombard’s house just down Murphy Road. To our chagrin, Carolyn had fried chicken with all the fixin’s ready, because she knew three boys like us would be hungry. There was even apple pie. Needless to say, we were stuffed as we went to our first service of the Bible Conference that evening.


Like No Other Place

As memorable as my first encounter with Krispy Kreme™ was, it falls short of my first experience with FWBBC. We walked onto the campus, and it felt like no other place I had ever been. I was awed by the old southern homes that made up a good part of the campus. I was impressed when I was introduced to the president of the college as soon as we arrived. It almost seemed he was waiting just for us.

I was highly moved by the friendliness of the students. Actually, I was in awe of those students. I mistakenly thought all of them were training to be preachers and missionaries. I later discovered a few musicians and teachers scattered here and there.

It really did feel like no other place on earth—not because of the buildings and faculty and students—but because of something greater. There was a sense of higher purpose, a tangible feeling that God was in this place, and that He directed what happened here. I remember standing outside behind the auditorium at one point during my visit and telling God that I really wanted to come here if He would just make it possible. He did and I did.


Holy Ground

I arrived on campus in the fall of 1968 and began my career as a FWBBC student. I was proud to tell people where I was going to college. It did not take long to discover that it was not a glorified youth camp but hard work. Really hard work! I wish I could say that I always worked as hard as I should have.

Somehow, in May 1972, I walked across the stage of Memorial Auditorium, and Dr. L.C. Johnson, the same president I met when I walked on campus in 1967, placed a diploma in my hands. How quickly it arrived!

What did I gain? I earned a B.A. degree in Music and Bible, met my future wife (whom I married two weeks after graduation), and kindled a burning passion to know God. Yes, Free Will Baptist Bible College is holy ground to me. It is the place where I discovered a desire to know the Word of God intimately. It is where I learned to tarry with God in prayer. It is where I made lifelong, no, eternity-long friendships with people serving God all over the world.

I still walk across the campus or pause in the garden and hear echoes from those days of preparation. I sit in the auditorium and hear Dr. Johnson expound from Proverbs. Yes indeed, holy ground.

New Ground

With the memories fresh on my mind, how can I possibly support moving the campus to a new location? Easily. Just as I felt God in the very fabric of the college when I first arrived, He is also at work in every step of the move to a new campus. His hand is evident as the pieces fall into place in a way that it is plain to see. Yes, it will be sad to see parts of the old campus fall to the wrecking ball, but imagine the excitement of watching a new campus rise from other soil.

God must be and will be with us every step of the way in this great endeavor. We do it to educate leaders to serve Christ, His Church, and His world through biblical thought and life. We do it because God does not sit still, and neither must we.

Free Will Baptists have a tremendous opportunity. God has blessed us in more ways than we can imagine. Let us use those blessings to be a blessing to our denomination and the Lord by following His leading. The future usefulness of Free Will Baptists to the Lord may well depend on what we do now.

ABOUT THE WRITER: Reverend Gary Fry serves as executive director for the Missouri State Association of Free Will Baptists. He recently completed 12 years on the FWBBC Board of Trustees, 10 years as chairman.

Reprinted by permission from The GEM, official publication of the Missouri State Association of Free Will Baptists, August 2006 issue.



©2007 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists